I’m kicking off my new ‘Sustainable Textiles’ blog series with shocking breaking news from Europe.

Recent testing by the Greenpeace Detox campaign of children’s and teen’s clothing and footwear from German, Austrian and Swiss supermarkets and other retailers, revealed numerous products containing dangerous levels of toxic chemicals, potentially harmful to our children’s health.

Aldi rainboots
These boots contain toxins that may hinder my children from having children!

Among the worst offending products were plastic items such as these boots above that I bought for my daughters from Aldi. I can’t tell you how disappointed, sickened and just plain upset this makes me.

I’m careful when I buy for my children and often go out of my way to get organic products, but with two children to clothe and a limited budget, price is a major factor.

The word on the street in southern Germany is that Aldi products are good quality and good value for money and many textile products they sell carry the ‘confidence in textiles’ label (I’ll be covering textile labels in my next post). It’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security. When my kids needed rain boots for Kindergarten, I was seduced by Aldi’s bargain prices and snaffled up a pair each for my girls. To then find out, these boots may be harming my children’s health is alarming.

Is it too much to ask that kid’s products are produced free from harmful chemicals regardless of how much they cost? Should cheap clothing carry health warning labels like cigarettes? ‘Warning: Wearing these plastic clogs may make you or the people who made them infertile’ for instance! You could almost laugh at that if there wasn’t a sad element of truth to it!

Don’t be fooled by price though, you don’t necessarily get what you pay for when it comes to nasty chemicals in your textiles. Greenpeace has shown that not only discount retailers are selling toxic products, luxury high-end branded textile goods have also been outed in their ongoing fashion Detox campaign.

Fortunately, a leader has emerged in Germany from this summer’s Greenpeace investigation. Tchibo has stepped forward in a landmark move, to lead the discount retail sector in detoxification of its products and set a new standard for the big retail stores.

‘The company is taking responsibility for the entire life-cycle of its products, working to minimise its environmental impact from the materials to the factory floor, from the products themselves to what happens to them after they are thrown away.’ (Greenpeace.org)

Let’s hope more companies follow suit! I don’t want to think I stretched my body out of all proportion and pushed for seven hours without pain relief TWICE, to have the enjoyment and health of future generations of my genes derailed by irresponsible clothing manufacturers out to make a quick buck! We all deserve better than that, don’t we?

I’m interested to hear from you. What most influences you when you buy textiles or clothing? Price, quality, labels, brands? How does this news affect you? Let me know in the comments below.

In my next post, I’ll be looking at organic textile labelling and subscribers to my newsletter will receive news of upcoming organic fashion events.

If you want to receive updates (they’re free!) and more info about sustainable textiles, sign up for the YoSaMi newsletter.

Now that’s off my chest, I’ll get back to some relaxing sewing!

Enjoy the rest of the week,

Christine

Update: Want to know if your bought textiles contain toxins? Check out www.reach-Info.de and expect an answer within 45 days.

Also to find retailers of organic, fair and transparently produced textile goods, enter your postcode in this online database: www.getchanged.net